MOFA Statement on Hostage Crisis

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TOKYO — The Ministry of Foreign Affairs released the following statement on Jan. 20 regarding the capture of two Japanese nationals, Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa, by the Islamic State, which has threatened to kill them on Friday unless Japan pays them $200 million.

“On 20th January, just before 1500 (JST), a video clip, which seemed to have been produced by a terrorist group that proclaims itself as the Islamic State (ISIL), was uploaded online. In this video, a warning has been made that the two individuals, who seem to be Japanese nationals, will be executed.

“If this is true, such an act of blackmailing through holding the innocent lives as hostage is utterly impermissible, and we feel strong indignation. We strongly urge the group not to harm the two Japanese nationals and to release them immediately.

“Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe’s trip to the Middle East this time is intended to send a message that Japan will actively contribute to the stability of the Middle East region. Japanese assistance, which we have announced and amounts to approximately 200 million USD, is for humanitarian assistance and infrastructure development, and it is non-military in nature.

“In any case, Japan will not give in to terrorism, and our position of contributing to the counter-terrorism efforts by the international community remains unchanged.”

The release of the video coincided with Abe’s Middle East visit from Jan. 16 to 21, during which he met with the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

The Japanese government has confirmed the authenticity of the video, despite details that suggest it may have been altered. The video is similar to others in which American and British hostages were threatened, then killed.

According to the Associated Press, Japanese officials have not directly said whether they are considering paying any ransom.

Since Japan’s military cannot operate overseas, any rescue attempt would have to be carried out by the U.S. or another ally.

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